An Enduring Testament to Noteworthiness

You might know it as a Hollywood landmark and an official Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument. The cylindrical mid rise peeks over the shoulders of DiCaprio and Pitt in Tarentino’s latest movie. And whether intentional or not, the Capitol Records building visually suggests vinyl albums stacked on a spindle.

The 63 year-old building’s architect Louis Naidorf repeats his protest that such an allusion was never his intention in a recent Billboard interview. His bosses didn’t tell him who the building’s namesake company would be; the then 24 year old Naidorf was simply told to design a 150 foot tall, 13-story building on Vine Street with work spaces of equal size and no corner offices. When Naidorf eventually learned the principle tenant’s identity, he worried his design might be considered a cheap, gimmicky stunt.

And at first, it was. The Capitol Records people initially passed, wanting a more traditional, rectangular building. But here’s where the story really resonates. Naidorf says the other tenant of the building, an insurance company, argued for his singular design. He recalls them advising the Capitol Records team “You’re not on Hollywood Boulevard, you’re up some damn side street and you’re only occupying half of the building and leasing out the rest. People won’t laugh at the building, but they will notice it and that’s damn good for leasing. Do the round one.”

“People won’t laugh at the building, but they will notice it and that’s damn good for leasing. Do the round one.”

Getting noticed rarely comes from expected solutions; noteworthy ideas spring from the new, the novel, the innovative. And anything new, novel, and innovative introduces risk.

Happily, the insurance execs recognized this and had more trust in Naidorf’s idea than their hepcat record label counterparts. They saw it wasn’t truly risk, but rather uncertainty. If Naidorf’s design came together, they would be leasing office space in a hot property everyone would recognize. And to them, that sounded good.

In the creative world, where ideas are the only currency, not pushing for the new, the novel, and the innovative is actually a far greater risk. Because safe thinking leads to the absolute worst outcome of all: disinterest. No reaction is more soul crushing than “meh.”

Naidorf set the rooftop tower off-center to further distance his design from stacks of wax.

With his very first professional project, Louis Naidorf crushed it. Looking back on his long and successful career, he seems to recognizes that. “It’s a sweetheart. I like the building. Sixty seven years is a pretty long time for a design to hold up.”

It certainly is. Your idea literally changed the landscape Mr. Naidorf. So glad they went with the round one.

Exploding Hamsters! Volcanoes in Manhattan! Juggling Babies!

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingDag it’s tough to get noticed any more.  Back when there were only three channels, you watched whatever was on whenever you watched.  Want to see “Wizard of Oz”?  Sorry kid, you gotta wait a year…  But in today’s world of infinite distraction–these hyper-documented, endlessly updated, exhaustively posted, multi-channel, multi-platform times when more people are spending more time watching more content than ever before in human history– you can’t assume an audience.  Because even when viewers are in front of a TV, you can’t be entirely sure they are absorbing your message.  They could be on their mobile texting oron their laptop updating Facebook.  Attention shifts like quicksilver in this age of the imMedia.

And if you think that’s bad, you’re gonna hate this:

An unprecedentedly-comprehensive new study from Visible Measures shows a 20% drop off in the first ten seconds of watching any online video.

That’s 20%: one in five…lost in less than ten seconds.  And it goes downhill from there.  Fully a third of all viewers leaves in the first thirty seconds and nearly half by the end of the first minute.  Worse, these defections aren’t predicated on the length of the clip; the numbers hold whether the video is thirty seconds or two minutes long.

This was not a tiny sample with a few pieces of stimulus: Visible Measures tabulated seven billion video views of forty million unique video clips (7,000,000,000 of 40,000,000).  Technically speaking, that’s a boatload.

All of which proves today’s challenge when creating marketing materials isn’t merely hewing to a strategy and buying strong media, it’s earning attention.  We can demand all we want, but when sports, jokes, and porn are mere clicks away, introducing a remarkable new breath freshener with the news that it works nearly fifty percent better than the competition won’t engage an audience with the attention span of tree frogs.

This can be a particularly painful truth for clients to recognize and value; their careers, their livelihoods, their kids’ college funds depend on these products.  To them, this news is vital.

But to the rest of the world, it is about as fascinating as watching a neighbor’s vacation slides.  And as soon as they feel bored, they’ll click on to the next bit.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79